"It is key that patients inform their doctors about the use of
herbal medications and ask about harmful effects of herbal
medications and possible interactions with other medications they
are using,” Dr. Graziano Onder from A. Gemelli University Hospital,
Universita Cattolica del Sacro Cuore in Rome told Reuters Health.
“This is particularly important for older adults who are often
taking multiple medications.”
One of every five persons in the U.S. admits to taking herbal or
dietary supplements at some point in his or her life, and this is a
particular concern for people with heart disease.
Onder's team looked at the evidence for the safety and effectiveness
of herbal medications for people with cardiovascular disease and
found no herbal medication for which there is clear and convincing
evidence of any benefit when used in people with heart disease.
There was limited evidence of possible benefits from flaxseed oil,
milk thistle, grape seeds, green tea, hawthorn, garlic and soy, they
report in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. But
this was tempered by evidence of a high risk of interactions with
heart medications with green tea, hawthorn and garlic.
Among other commonly used herbal medications, astragalus appeared to
have either no evidence or conflicting evidence of benefit and
limited side effects. Asian ginseng had no benefits and a high risk
of interaction with heart medications, and Ginkgo biloba had
evidence of potentially severe side effects and a high risk of
interactions with heart medications.
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A number of other herbal medications, such as cranberry, European
elder, goldenseal, licorice root, salvia miltiorrhiza and St. John’s
wort have significant interactions with prescription drugs commonly
used to treat heart disease, including Warfarin, diuretics, aspirin
and other anticoagulants.
Unfortunately, your doctor may not be aware of many of these
effects. “So far, in most western countries, the study of
alternative medicine is not imbedded in the medical school,” Onder
said by email. “Therefore, it is necessary that physicians improve
their knowledge on herbal medications in order to adequately assess
the clinical implications related to their use.”
It’s important to know “that ‘natural does not mean safe’ and that
herbal medications might lead to severe side effects,” he added.
SOURCE: http://bit.ly/2lqUdlR Journal of the American College of
Cardiology, online February 27, 2017.
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